Bowden film reminds fans to take ownership for success

The Bobby Bowden Dynasty film, which aired on the ACC Network last week, is full of nostalgic reminders of the people and the effort required to be succesful.

One 30-second segment of the film struck me as particularly relevant today for coaches, players and fans alike.

“In a football game, there is going to be adversity,” Bowden said to a 1978 Alumni Kickoff Luncheon. “You’re gonna get knocked down. You’re gonna get ripped apart. The other team is gonna move the ball on you. But you can’t quit! You can’t let up! You must back off and regroup and come back.”

Then focusing his words on the alumni, Bowden said: “But you fans have got to do the same thing if we happen to go through some adversity. Until we get these kids educated like we want ‘em, you have got to regroup. You can’t hang your head. You can’t quit. We can’t do this unless we’re all together.”

His last sentence gives fans ownership for success.

Florida State has played three games in which they have faced adversity. Where they have been knocked down, ripped apart. The other team has moved the ball on them. In each game the outcome has been decided on the final series, the final play. The Seminoles could be 0-3 as surely as they could be 3-0.

The Seminoles led in all three games, by as much as 21 points, but ran out of gas in the second half and let up.

For weeks we’ve been looking for answers. Here’s another one: Would the team have let up if the half-full stadium had been packed and in encouraging voice?

Do fans play a role, as Bowden said?

With two losses, Seminole fans and students are naturally feeling the adversity too. Many have given up season tickets, chosen not to come to games, or as Bowden puts it: “hanging their head.”

These are tough times but an opportune one for coaches, players and fans to re-group. The Seminoles come back to Doak Campbell Stadium with a two-game home stand against Louisville and North Carolina State.

A pair of wins against these respectable but beatable programs would elevate FSU to 3-2 and bring team goals back into focus. If the script of this season plays out, these games will come down to a single series of plays once again.

The team has shown signs of improvement on offense and special teams in all three games this year and the defense played better for three quarters against Virginia. Could a rambunctious crowd, hellbent on creating a homefield advantage like that in Charlottesville, carry FSU to the finish? Could Doak give the Seminoles the resolve not to let up? Could the incessant sound of the Warchant make it difficult on opponents to execute under pressure?

Most of FSU’s former players will tell you a loud and passionate crowd inspires the home team, intimidates the opposing team, and does affect the outcome of games, especially those decided in the final moments.

“We can’t do this unless we’re all together,” Bowden said 41 years ago.

If you are a Seminole fan, you want to say, “Hell to the yeah!”

You wake up Sunday morning after a hard-fought win, nursing a sore throat, and absolutely certain you made a difference. And according to Bobby you did.

I know Bobby Bowden believed what he said in 1978 — giving ownership for success to the fans — because he repeated the statement in 2016 while addressing a crowd of 1500 at the premier of the Bobby Bowden Dynasty Film in St. Petersburg.

After the film played, Bowden and a reporter took the stage to answer questions. The reporter asked Bowden about “his” success and what Bowden did next reinforced what he said in 1978.
As he spoke, he made eye contact with every every section of that theater, and said something to the effect of: “We couldn’t have done any of it without every on of you. It was your team. It wasn’t my team, or my success, it was your team and your success.”

Former outside linebacker coach Jim Gladden was there and collaborated what Bowden said.

“When he talked to the community he was quick to deflect success and turn it around as a complement to the fan base, to the community,” Gladden remembers. “He would always say, ‘It is not Florida State’s team, it is your team.”

Enjoy the clip. #BowdenDynasty #TheOsceola

Notes: There are numerous hotel rooms available for this weekend’s Louisville game for under $199 per night with a one-night minimum. Go to visittallahassee.bookdirect.net/

Single game tickets are also available at Seminoles.com or on Stubhub.

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  1. Debra Billard

    Jerry – you are absolutely right! They need our support! We are bringing a bus from Jax and will be there loud and proud!

  2. Jeff Bush

    Love it Jerry!!

  3. Sarvin patel

    Nice message

  4. Carolyn Dubard

    Jerry, for many of us it is not about whether we support the team or not. We will attend all games and cheer the players enthusiastically, understanding that young men are going to make mistakes. Some have called us traitors when we had questions about the coaching. Mind you, questions we have had, not calling for firing or name-calling. My questions have been about the lack of adjustments with-in a game once the other team has adjusted to our game plan. Also why the coaches after the first two games had simplistic and silly analyses of the problems. Also why the coaches are not analyzing the play and their procedures using a systems approach….knowing that maximizing each component of the play (offense, defense, special teams, conditioning) does not always lead to the overall maximum for the team. I saw progress in these areas during the Virginia game and am hopeful the progress will continue for the young players and the young coaches. However I do not think I should be considered a traitor for having these questions.

  5. Jerry Kutz

    You are absolutely correct. Tell those who would have you feel you are a traitor, that questions aren’t insubordinate. They are an expression of not understanding and a search for an answer. I ask a lot of questions to learn and if the coach – or my wife – will take me seriously when I ask them, its a chance for them to communicate with me and with my readers. Bobby was the master of talking to his supporters (my readers) through the media. We were a channel by which he could tell our readers what he wanted them to know. At times he would be mad at the media, or a particular reporter, but he would always answer questions in painstaking detail as if he were talking directly to the people who support his efforts.

    I’d like to know more about your thoughts on a systems approach… please elaborate.

  6. Michael

    We’ve been in this together for many years. And that’s the problem in this case. If it was a matter of waiting a season for a plan to come together and inexperienced kids to learn the game, that’s acceptable. What’s not acceptable is that FSU made zero progress last year and was not being taught and that the same lack of coaching on is in many respects evident this year. Being patient and continuing to send your money in won’t foster the necessary change; it will only encourage the status quo, which is stagnation and underachievement. We know that because in the last twenty years, while we were patient and all in it together, we’ve had a playoff level team only four of those years— 1999-2000 and 2013-2014. This is despite the fact FSU is one of two flagship universities in the most recruiting rich state in the country, with a history of unparalleled success in the 80’s and 90’s. We have cratered over the last 5 years. And all of that is due to poor leadership. When we continue to support that financially, we send the only real message they hear, because that’s the number one their job performance is rated on— revenue generation. Angers missives are meaningless while the dollars are flowing. Being “all in” is part of the solution? Not after 20 years, and especially not after the last 5 or even the last 1.2. It’s really just remaining a part of the problem.

  7. Sammie Smith

    As a former player I can attest to the fact that it’s absolutely vital for the fans to show up and show out, the players feed off the energy of the fans, and the impact a supportive loud fan base can have on the outcome of a game is immeasurable! I’m working as Chaplain for Ole Miss Football, and we’re experiencing the same need for fans to show up during the down times and rebuilding of a winning identity. This is when support is needed most, there’s no worse feeling on Saturday’s after these guys have worked all off season and during the game week than to show up to an empty stadium!

  8. Dan Owens

    Jerry, I very much appreciated this article. Coach Bowden was one of a kind and had a way of bringing everyone together for the cause. These are tough times right now for Seminole fans but for those of us who have followed the college football landscape since the mid 1960s it’s not unprecedented. Anywhere! All of the great programs have seen decline during that time. All of them, Michigan, USC, Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas, Clemson, Miami, Florida, and even Alabama. So what makes FSU any different? It’s the ability to persevere through the down cycle and rise again that truly make a program great! And, we need look no farther than our former leader Coach Bobby Bowden to see how to do it, with class, dignity and fight. Not with each other though, but together. We’re gonna fight fight fight for FSU….. Thanks again Jerry. Keep on truckin brother!

  9. Carolyn DuBard

    Jerry, I will give two examples of a systems approach.
    The first one is classic. Each player has a position that they play the best. That is their maximum position. Now if the coach puts each player in their maximum position, it is usually not the team’s maximum, because there are still weak spots. If the coach moves a player from their max position which has depth to the position where the team is weak and the player can play well there and better than the players currently playing the position, then the move will improve the team play. So maximizing each player’s play does not necessarily maximize the team’s play.
    The second example: The score of the UV game was 31-24 and we had time of possession around 20 minutes. Some has hypothized that the low time of possession caused by the fast offense cause the defense to tire out in the fourth quarter. I am not sure that hypothosis is true, but let’s suppose it is true and that the 20 minutes time of possession maximizes the offense scoring of 21 points. Now if the offense slows down and time of possession is 30 minutes, suppose the offense is no longer maximized and scores only 7 points and the defense allows only 10 points, we still lose but the defense is maximized. Suppose the offense slows to only 25 minutes of possession, the offence scores 17 points and the dense allows only 14 points, then we win. Now neither the offense nor the defense is playing at their maximum, but the team is at its maximum. Coach Briles said he was only concerned about the offense, and he was correct…that is what he should do. Taggart is the one who needs to evaluate the overall system and decide how to balance the offence, defense, and special teams. Now this theory of time of possession may not be correct because if the offense slows down, the time of possession may decrease to 15 minutes, but it is Taggart’s job to make the judgement.
    One other point, Taggart is young and inexperienced at dealing with the media. I know he was a Seminole before he was a coach and cares deeply about the program, but at the podium, he gives an impression of not caring. It would be good for him to have a personal PR-media coach to help him with his approach to the media.

  10. Jerry Kutz

    I feel your pain. I don’t intend my reply to be argumentative — in fact I agree with some points — but sometimes message boards come off as an argument because you can’t see the other person’s eyes.
    You make several points in here I’d like to comment on but before I do, let me say this: The article was about taking ownership in FSU’s SUCCESS. If you were a supporter in those days, you had a feeling it was your team which is absolutely a great feeling. If you were a person who didn’t come to games, for whatever reason, what Bobby built was great but you may not have felt it was yours.

    My feeling is you should come to the games if you enjoy hanging out with your friends, which I do, and trying to help them win a game. Participate not spectate. But I don’t want anyone to ever feel obligated to come. No one should ever feel shamed into participating.

    And finally, if you don’t like what you see rest assured FSU proved it would make the tough decision on Bobby Bowden so they will make it on Willie Taggart or any other coach when that time comes.

    Let me parse out some of your comments with my opinion or experience. Take them for what they are worth:

    1. “Being patient and continuing to send your money in won’t foster the necessary change.”
    Season ticket sales have fallen continuously since 2013, 2014 which includes the Fisher era and now Taggart. The loss of ticket revenue and Booster contributions associated with it is nearly $10 million per year so yes, the message you are sending has been heard loud and clear. But as you’ll see, what you profess is actually a part of history including the past 20 years.

    2. FSU fans were “all in it together over the last 20 years.”
    The facts would argue this is not true which in fact does support your first point. People do withhold support when the team isn’t good which sends a loud and clear message.
    Our fans were all in during the 14 years of the Dynasty Era without question. But season ticket sales started a steady decline from 2001 until 2009 — with a 14,000 season ticket drop in one year alone. — just as they have been doing over the last five years.
    The administration (TK Wetherell) made a difficult change by bringing in Jimbo Fisher as an interim head coach and escorting Bowden to retirement — not an easy thing to do to a legend — which gave Fisher a two year head start on recruiting his team and assembling his staff.
    Fisher hit the ground running but ticket sales didn’t really improve until a freshman quarterback lit up Pittsburgh early his freshman year and fans beat a path back to the ticket window… and then began leaving again when FSU couldn’t sustain the same magic.

    So there was a gap of 10 years — from 2001 to 2010 — where ticket sales were in decline; where people were doing exactly what you propose. Then we had a brief four-year spike from 2011 to 2014 where tickets rose when we were excellent and now a steady decline since. So if you want to go by Doak numbers we’ve only approached being “all in it together” for 4 of the last 20 years.

    We have a history for supporting excellence and a history for not buying tickets when we are not excellent. It is true for many universities – not all – including the ones to our south who we enjoy mocking who also struggle with excellence from time to time in this great recruiting state of ours.

    Its life in the very, very fast lane.

    I don’t blame our fans. We are in a geographically challenged location that is difficult and expensive to get to. We have 1 million within 150 mile radius compared to 10 million for schools like Clemson, Auburn and Florida who are as short drive from large metro areas. It is not as easy to get here as it is for those fans to get there.

    I wish we had support in good times and bad — like a few schools have — and I bet we would if we 10 million people a close drive away.

    As a person who was in administration for 19 years, you are right revenue does affect the administrations urgency to win but I’d tell you there are MANY other motivations as well, EGO being one. Our admin is all FSU grads and hate to lose as much as you. Losing casts a pall over the campus and affects every interaction every day from dealing with students, coaches, faculty, staff, ticket holders and supporters, angry fans… it affects freshman enrollment… collegiate rankings… and your own self image. Losing sucks with or without the loss of revenue.

    The loss of revenue sucks too. It forces you into budget meeting to figure out what — and often who — you can do to cut to survive and you dare not take a cut out of the cash cow, football. As we know the only way we can get people back to the turnstile is with a better football product. So you expend an inordinate amount of time finding other areas you can generate offsetting revenue or cutting expenses in any area other than football.

    No one wants to win more than the administration.

    3. As for improvement, or the lack thereof. I agree with you there was no improvement last year on the field but I do see some bubbling up this year. Those in administration saw improvement off the field — class attendance and behavior — which generally finds it way onto the field.
    I believe Taggart did what he needed to do in the offseason to fire his special teams coach and reassign it to Snyder. It worked. Our special teams are improved. The same is true for the offense. He went and got his guys, the guys he couldn’t get to start, and we’re seeing progress there too. What’s blinding us to those improvements is the defense which has been horrible. The administration funded a position for Jim Leavitt to join the staff, which I think can help, and we’ll see if the defense improves over the coming weeks.
    If it does improve to average, this team will show signs of improvement, maybe enough to encourage FSU fans to come back to the park.

    But if this team does not show enough improvement in the near term, you can expect FSU will find a head coach who can achieve and sustain excellence. FSU proved it would make the tough decision on Bobby Bowden and will make it on Willie Taggart whenever that time should come.

  11. Jerry Kutz

    I knew you were smart as heck about economics and mathematics but wow, football too? I agree with you on all points.
    I think the moves they are making at linebacker illustrate your first point. And I believe the head coach is responsible for putting a game plan together – with his offensive and defensive coordinator – that gives the team the best chance to win against the opponent we are playing next.
    Based on what Taggert has told us in press conferences, he’s aware of it and having discussions to that effect. We will see.
    To your point, we are not deep on defensive line or at linebacker so at points in the game, the head coach may need to tell the offensive coordinator to be more mindful of time of possession.
    When Mark Richt was our offensive coordinator his primary objective was to design an offense based on the next opponent, not necessarily to light up the scoreboard.
    In business, we call it risk assessment.
    His game plan was built to give our TEAM the best chance to win. If the opponent had a bad offense, one that Mickey Andrews could dominate, but had a dangerous defense, Mark might not take as many chances with a possession inside his own 30 yard line.
    He was willing to manage risk to give the team the best chance to win.
    I’ve confirmed my memory of that with Coach Andrews and he said, “absolutely”.
    These are discussions the head coach has with his coordinators on the Monday morning before he approves the offensive and defensive game plans.
    I know Bobby had those meetings with Mickey and Mark and Willie has indicated he’s doing the same.

    But having said all that about game management, I guarantee you there were times when Mark Richt was managing a risky situation and Bobby got impatient and jumped on the headset and said, “Mark, run the rooskie right now!”

    The Riverboat Gambler wasn’t always as patient as his coordinators.

  12. Jerry Kutz

    Thanks Dan. Yes, every great program has been through adversity and come out the back side. And in fairness, I’ll bet there were some upset people in those programs while they were going through it. Our fans care and while our fans don’t always agree, their passion is what makes us strong. Thanks for your support and your friendship.

  13. Jerry Kutz

    Thanks for coming on the site and sharing your comments with us. Your opinion means a great deal to me. I know how hard you all work on the practice field and can only imagine how disappointing it would be to see empty seats on Saturday. Very strong point.
    Like to catch up with you for a podcast on what you are doing now as Chaplain, your insights into college athletes and to reminisce on your time here at FSU. I’ll call you.

  14. Jerry Sexton

    I was there when Bobby Bowden first came to FSU. I was a photographer on the sidelines for the Florida Flambeau for three years — two years prior with Coach Mudra and one year with Coach Bowden. I can tell you without a doubt that the team reacts positive when fans support them. When I was in the military stationed overseas I used to listen to the games on AFRTS radio. ANYONE who is an FSU fan will stand behind the team. Give the Coach a few years to work out the program. I think the team is responding to him — leaders aren’t often the most vocal — some people lead by example. I think he is doing a great job. Look at the difference in stats in just three games. GO NOLES! As we used to say if you beat Florida and Miami — you had a successful season. Remember it is a game.

  15. Bill Johnson class of ‘67

    Coach Bowden created an environment for fans and alums with his winning way that became the Dynasty…the primary emotional means for bragging and showing off your Garnet and Gold; win big, brag hard….and show up for games, home and away. Bowl games, National Championships, nationally recognized recruiting classes all accomplished with fans filling Doak Campbell and in some cases, more FSU fans in away stadiums than the home team and the Chant drowning out opponents band/fan noise.
    The backdrop to that success was the growth of an economic strategy. A full stadium, full parking lots/tail-gating, post game celebrations and “hanging out” to congratulate players and coaches was the currency of the FSU realm, but wasn’t enough. Ramping up the price for being a booster, creating suites/boxes and finally, a special end zone “Champions Club” (with few, if any, fans occupying seats).
    The economic strategy to build revenues overtook the fundamental strategy Coach Bowden created with winning in front of that committed fan base. The fundamental need to created a fully financed scholarship endowment (reference almost all of the other ACC programs and certainly the annually “top 15” nationally recognized programs) became secondary to Chief status and game day suites.
    That created fans/alums like (name redacted) who sponsored an academic scholarship for a needy student/child of a single parent household (something easy to be proud of). Something to brag about….having Platinum Chief status and a game day suite. Those $’s would or could have funded a number of scholarships that contribute directly to the success of our football program with long term value.
    The conflict…supporting an economic strategy committed to building revenue or supporting a winning legacy with committed scholarship funding; that has become the choice. When I look at Florida State games, I see a “have/have not” fan base, not a stadium/seats filled with Seminole fanatics.
    Finally, feeling like you, as a fan or alum, have the right to criticize or publish negative comments about Coach Taggart, his staff and his players instead of recognizing the amount of work necessary to restore the program through finding the positives….then you are not a true Seminole. Think about it.

  16. Jerry Kutz

    You identify a reality that’s affecting every collegiate program; an economic strategy to compete during a period of runaway escalation in the cost of athletics, especially since the 1980s.
    1. Coaches salaries alone have increased 20x over the 1970s and their staff size has increased from a core of 15 counting assistants, secretaries and such to a staff of 40. Bobby started at $45,000 per year and was making more than $2 million at the end. A great DC like Mickey Andrews, who made less than $200k throught most of his career, would command $2 million in this market today. Assistants like Billy Sexton and Jim Gladden didn’t make $100k until the very end of their career. Today the lower paid assistant on a P5 staff is making $400k.
    2. Scholarship costs in 1986, when Seminole Boosters started their endowed scholarship program, were $5,000 per student athlete and the university could afford to give out-of-state tuition waivers. With state funding cuts, FSU has had to raise the cost of tuition, fees, housing etc so a scholarship for an in-state student is almost $16,000 per year and there are no out-of-state tuition waivers anymore, so athletics must pay about $36,000 per year for an out-of-state student.
    3. I don’t have to tell you about the cost of facilities, which are an arms race. All those facilities built have an underlying mortgage (a bond issue) which is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with major gift donors annual pledge payments paying the debt service which is more than $10 million per year.
    4. During this same time period, you also saw the rise of Women’s Athletics, driven by Title IX, which increased athletics budgets by tens of millions of dollars a year but also provided us all with a lot of excitement and entertainment.

    I don’t like it that athletics budgets rose from $40 million a year to over $100 million a year. But it is driven by the market and by Federal Law. If you want to compete, FSU and Florida and Miami had to adapt.
    That’s why every university put in Booster priority systems, built skyboxes, Champions Club seating, and created benefits for those donors able to help balance an athletics budget to fund those annual expenses and facilities. At University of Tennessee they did an analysis of donors and determined that those donors occupying 5,000 seats in 100,000 Neyland Stadium funded more than 50 percent of their athletics budget. Those skyboxes and club seats help to keep the cost of bleacher seats lower than if you didn’t have them.

    The donor you referenced, who is the child of a single parent, contributes to just about everything in the community and at our university. His platinum chief and his suite helps Seminole Boosters make the $17 million transfer to athletics to fund the budget and pay the cost of scholarships. I hear what you are saying but my experience as a fundraiser is people have freedom of choice, we’ve had much better success with a big menu of choices of what people can give to than of having only one or two choices for donors to give to. I see one pair of pants with many pockets you can give to but it is all still going in one pair of pants.

    Same has become true for stadium seating where some fans will choose their man cave if you don’t have the amenities they want or need to extend their ability to enjoy gameday in their advancing years.

    Appreciate the dialogue. We’re going to make discussion threads — and eventually a message board — a regular piece of the site.

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